Valdosta State has a new winningest softball coach.
Thomas Macera became the winningest coach in Valdosta State softball history Sunday afternoon, and he earned the tying and record-setting wins the same way he had earned many of his previous wins — with a doubleheader sweep against a Gulf South Conference opponent.
Valdosta State won a pair of games against GSC rival West Florida, 9-1 and 4-0, on Sunday at the VSU Softball Complex.
“Big weekend for us, to go 4-0,” Macera said.
Macera won his 304th career game at Valdosta State, passing the late Ron Durante, who won 303 games at VSU. Macera was an assistant coach under Durante for a few years.
“I’m proud of (the record). It’s hard work,” Macera said. “(Durante) taught me a lot. He taught me what to do and what not to do. I still miss him.”
Macera said that a lot of the credit for the record should go to the players he has had at Valdosta State.
“I don’t believe it’s really my coaching. It’s a testament to the quality of players I’ve had to play here,” Macera said. “I’ve had so many good players, so many All-Americans and just so many other good quality players. ... That’s where your wins are coming from, the good teams we’ve been blessed with.”
Valdosta State 9, West Florida 1
The Blazers scored seven runs in the final two innings, and turned a 2-1 lead into a 9-1 mercy rule victory in game 1 of Sunday’s doubleheader.
West Florida took a brief lead in the top of the first, when Amber Ingram doubled down the left field line to drive in Emma Johansen from second, giving the Argonauts a 1-0 lead.
Marti Littlefield, Valdosta State’s All-American shortstop, gave her team a lead it would not relinquish with one swing of the bat in the bottom of the first. With Samantha Posey on first and two outs, Littlefield drove a Jordan Ratliff pitch over the fence in left field for a two-run homer, giving VSU a 2-1 lead.
VSU added three runs to its lead in the bottom of the fourth. Ashley Steinhilber led off the inning with a seeing-eye single up the middle, and was bunted to second by Angela O’Connor. Then Clare Wamsley ripped the ball into the gap in left center. The ball bounced once, hit Colonel Sanders’ face on the Kentucky Fried Chicken sign and drove in Steinhilber. April Hutchens followed with a double into the left field corner, scoring Wamsley. The Argonauts changed pitchers, and when Sarah Scott’s first pitch was in the dirt, Hutchens went to third. Courtney Albritton grounded to short, but Hutchens scored, giving the Blazers a 5-1 lead.
Then the Blazers ended the game with four more runs in the fifth. Littlefield led off with a double off of the fence in right center, moved to third on Natalia Morozova’s infield single and scored on a wild pitch. Two outs later, Hutchens doubled to left, driving in O’Connor and Wamsley to make it 8-1. Then Albritton’s deep fly ball landed at the base of the fence in left center, and Hutchens scored to give the Blazers a 9-1 lead. That ended the game, due to the mercy rule.
Hutchens went 2 for 3 with two runs and three RBIs. Littlefield was 2 for 3 with two runs and two RBIs. Wamsley went 2 for 3 with two runs and an RBI. Albritton had a pair of RBIs. Posey also had two hits.
“There’s a whole bunch of people on this team getting stuff done for us,” Macera said. “Our eight and nine hitters (Wamsley and Hutchens) had big hits today, had clutch hits today. It’s not just the marquee names here making all the plays. It’s everybody.”
Valdosta State pitcher Alanna Hadley (9-1) held West Florida to one run and three hits in five innings, and struck out six.